Many of our gardeners have large compost bins and these are a favourite spot for Grass Snakes to hibernate and to lay their eggs.
The Grass Snake is Britain's largest terrestrial reptile, growing to about a metre long and living for up to 25 years. It is usually olive-green in colour, but can sometimes be grey or brown. The characteristic black and yellow collar is the reason for its
alternative name of 'Ringed Snake'.
Grass Snakes emerge from hibernation in March or April and go in search of a mate.
They feed on frogs, toads, voles and small fish and in gardens generally choose a site with access both to a pond and to long grass. In warm weather Grass Snakes can be seen basking in the sun. Like all snakes, they are cold-blooded and can only be active and hunt when they raise their body temperature in this way.
Grass Snake numbers are steadily declining and they are a priority species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.
Unlike the Adder, the Grass Snake is not venomous and is harmless to humans. If threatened it generally lies still. Occasionally it will rear up in mock attack, hissing and excreting a foul-smelling but benign substance.
Unlike other native British snakes, Grass Snakes lay eggs. The female mates at most every other year and lays 30-40 eggs, incubating them until they hatch in late summer.
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